Chocolate lovers, brace yourself, this chocolate macaroon cake is outrageously delicious and not all that hard to make. This is not my recipe, but the first time I made it I knew it was a keeper and one I must share. This cake is part of BA’s Best, a collection of their essential recipes and it is just that–essential. I have lightly adapted the recipe, the original can be seen here.
This cake is truly a chocolate lovers dream. I say that because you have a moist chocolate, coconut, almond cake, with a rich, chocolate ganache frosting, topped with, wait for it…toasted coconut-almond clusters. I mean, what could be better than this? This cake is killer and what I’ll be making for Valentine’s Day this year. But what’s also wonderful about this cake is that it qualifies as Passover friendly. Yes, it’s true. So, if you also happen to be Jewish, you can thank me for that little bonus as well.
The true beauty of a cake like this is its simplicity. When it comes to baking, that means something. Although there are a several steps to make this recipe, this is single-layer cake that does not require trimming, and it can be easily frosted with minimal effort. The nut of choice here is almond, but truth-be-told, any kind of nut can work in this recipe, so go ahead and get creative, I think hazelnuts would be divine. The cluster topping is my ultimate favorite part of this recipe and helps the nutty-coconut flavor shine.
The difference between ganache and frosting
Ganache is a much heavier than frosting, meaning, it has more cocoa solids and it’s not whipped. Frosting is lighter, fluffy, and relies on the friction between butter and icing sugar (Confectioners’ sugar) to get a fluffy finish. Ganache is compact, and can even be poured several times, making for a very thick or thin coating. In this recipe these two get combined to make a frosting using a ganache base. This technique makes for a very fluffy, rich chocolatey flavor.
Coconut macaroons in history
This chocolate macaroon cake is actually based on the famous macaroon cookie I adore. The name “macaroon” comes from the Italian word “maccarone” which means “paste“. Originally made by Italian monks, these traditional macaroons were made from almond paste and egg-whites, which gave the macaroons a meringue-like consistency, with crisp crust and soft inside. Around 1530, macaroons made their way to France, where they were perfected and made popular.
The Jewish population in Italy were quick to adopt macaroons and make them their own. Macaroons absence of flour, yeast, baking powder or baking soda made them ideal sweet treat for the 8-day observance of the Passover holiday. Over time, macaroons, plain and chocolate, spread throughout Europe’s Jewish community and became a treat that was enjoyed year-round. Eventually, shredded coconut was added to the ground almonds which eventually replaced the use of almonds all-together in many recipes.
So the real beauty of this delightful little cake is it’s versatility: (1) it is a great chocolate lover’s cake, so naturally a wonderful one for Valentine’s Day, (2) the ground almond replaces the need for flour so it’s actually considered gluten-free and (3) it’s absence of traditional leavening agents, makes it Passover friendly. So, no matter what your angle is, this cake has got you covered and trust me, if you make it, I think you’ll thank me for it.
For the Cake:
- 1 cup virgin coconut oil, melted, cooled, plus more for pan
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pan
- 1 cup skin-on almonds
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 6 eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Ganache Frosting And Cluster Topping:
- 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly
- 1 Tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon, light agave nectar
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (13.5-ounce can, well shaken)
- 3 Tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2 Tablespoons sliced almonds
1. For the Cake: Place a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly brush a 9-inch cake pan with oil. Line the bottom with a round of parchment
2. Brush the parchment with oil. Dust sides of pan with cocoa powder, tap out excess.
3. Place 1 cup of almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
4. Place the chocolate and coconut oil in a medium heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of barely simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water), stirring often, until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
5. In a food processor, such as a Cusinart, fitted with a blade attachment, add the toasted almonds and pulse on and off to chop. Add the salt, and 1/4 cup cocoa and process until the nuts are finely ground. Add the shredded coconut and pulse a couple of times more to combine.
6. Beat the eggs on medium speed in the bowl of a kitchen mixer, such as a KitchenAid, fitted with the whisk attachment until no longer streaky, about 20 seconds. Add both sugars and vanilla, increase speed to high, and beat until mixture is pale, thick, and starts to hold the marks of the whisk, about 2 minutes (it should fall off the whisk and immediately sink back into itself). Switch to the paddle attachment and with mixer on low speed, gradually add chocolate mixture. Beat to incorporate, then mix in almond mixture. Fold batter several times with a rubber spatula, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides. Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth top. Place the cake in the oven and bake until firm to the touch and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean but greasy, 40-45 minutes.
7. When the cake is done, transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cake cool 15–20 minutes in pan (cake might fall slightly in the center, that’s okay). Run a paring knife or small offset spatula around edges of cake, invert onto rack. Carefully peel away parchment and let cool completely.
8. For the Ganache Frosting and Clusters: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the chocolate, 1 Tablespoon agave nectar, and salt in a medium bowl. Bring coconut milk to a simmer in a small saucepan over low, pour over chocolate mixture. Let sit until chocolate is melted, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, toss coconut flakes, almonds, and remaining 1 tsp. agave nectar on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden, about 4 minutes. Let almond-coconut mixture cool, then break into smaller clusters.
9. Using a kitchen mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, beat chocolate mixture on medium speed until it has lost its sheen and is thick enough to hold very soft peaks, about 8 minutes (ganache won’t be quite as thick as frosting but close). Working quickly before ganache starts to set, scrape on top of cake and spread to edges with a small offset spatula or knife. Top with almond-coconut clusters. Serve as is or with vanilla ice cream.
Menlo Park resident Andrea Potischman is a classically trained chef whose website is Simmer and Sauce.